Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Janet Jackson: Rhythm Nation: 1814 [A&M, 1989]
She's still Janet Jam-Lewis to me--Quincy Jones's natural bodily rhythms are nothing like Thriller's, but every Flyte Tyme production has showed off these angular beats. Not so smashingly is all--if the P-Funk pretensions of "nation" are a little much from somebody whose knowledge of the world is based on the 6 o'clock news, the "rhythm" is real, and I give her credit for it. Her voice is as unequal to her vaguely admonitory politics as it was to her declaration of sexual availability, but the music is the message: never before have Jam & Lewis rocked so hard for so long. Best slow stuff: the murmured moans and irregular breathing of the sexually available "Someday Is Tonight." A-